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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Pity the Parasite

Earlier this month, the Biden administration kicked the eviction crisis further down the road with yet another stopgap moratorium on forcibly unhousing people during the pandemic’s hasty resurgence—and from sea to acidifying sea, landlords are pissed. While untold millions may be flung into the streets when the latest moratorium expires, the Associated Press would appreciate it if we took a moment to consider the plight of the parasite class, many of whom are so fed up with the government’s inexplicable and entirely misplaced sympathy for renters that they’re exiting the business altogether. Biden’s hamfisted extension of the eviction ban, coming only several days after the previous one had been allowed to lapse, “was the final gut punch” to one landlord, who will now offload his apartments, perhaps to a pleasant private equity firm that will turn around and jack up the rent even higher. “I keep thinking to myself, when does my family get paid?” moaned another landlord, who owns 253 units. Meanwhile, greedy tenants, some landlords are quick to point out, are nevertheless driving cars, getting food deliveries, and even going on vacation—all instead of paying their rent! One landlord, “deprived” of a modest portion of his passive income, was forced to sell forty of his properties across Ohio, leaving him with a mere one hundred: “Without rent, we’re out of business,” he complained. The parade of sympathy continued over at Business Insider, where reporters were on hand to transcribe the tragic anguish of one landlord, photographed next to his private plane, who wailed about the “free living” of his unpaying tenants while tears rolled down the Botoxed slopes of his unfeeling face.


Bonfire of the Incarcerated

As wildfires continue raging across the western United States, California is preparing, as part of a broader push to end mass incarceration, to shutter one of the main training facilities for inmate firefighters. Ending the program—by which prisoners are taught the deadly art of fighting worsening fires and then paid $1 an hour to do so—may seem like a good thing, but actually, it might be bad, according to NBC: “Reducing the number of inmate firefighters could compromise the state’s ability to fight increasingly deadly wildfires.” “Can it be looked at as some form of indentured servitude or slave labor?” mused one former firefighter. “Yes, it could be. However, these programs are absolutely crucial to the success of a national fire program.” Alternatively, we might, as a society, agree that, instead of forcing prisoners to fight fires, we might pay unincarcerated firefighters a wage commensurate with the risk of the job. President Biden seems uninterested in such a path, having recently decided that federal firefighters ought to be happy with a whopping $15 an hour, one solitary dollar higher than California’s minimum wage.


Breathing Easy

Indeed, the skies up ahead appear dark, choked with the noxious plumes of super-mega-giga-wildfires. Perhaps that’s why Philip Morris, having delighted the word for nearly two centuries with its wide array of cancer sticks, is getting in on the asthma inhaler business. This week, the cigarette conglomerate announced it will be taking a minority stake in Vectura, which manufactures the kinds of inhalers that will be of great use to those of us smoking our lives away on a deteriorating planet. 


New Openings

For those looking to acquire employment while civil society enters its end run, might we point you toward a delightful array of new job openings? Perhaps you might enjoy working as the editorial assistant to beloved New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd? Or if aiding and abetting the insipid blatherings of a pundit isn’t your speed, perhaps you might find pleasure and joy as a fellow at the Center for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies at Heidelberg University? Become intimately familiar with our increasing immiseration and inevitable doom—and get paid to do so! Applications are due September 12.